“One of the things we had talked about early on when we started the garden was that in addition to the tomatoes and the peppers and the squash that we were growing, it would be nice if we could have fruit as well,” said Don Converse, one of the garden’s founding members.
Edy’s Fruit Bars and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation gifted the orchard to the Dunwoody garden through their Communities Take Root program, which provides fruit orchards to groups across the country. The community garden entered the online voting contest earlier this year, and participants cast 33,655 votes to help Dunwoody win the orchard.
Last Friday, more than two dozen garden members and volunteers, along with representatives from Edy’s and the foundation, planted the 2-year-old trees, which were delivered from Johnson Nursery in Ellijay. The semi-dwarf trees will produce pears, apples, pomegranates, persimmons, paw paw and plums.
“[The types of trees] were selected that will do well in our kind of climate here in the Atlanta area as well as being somewhat disease resistant,” Converse said. “We didn’t really want to get big, huge trees that would present a problem later on for people that try to harvest.”
The orchard roughly doubles the size of the community garden to a footprint of about 20,000 square feet.
“It’s going to be a few years probably before the trees are going to bear fruit,” Converse added.
The group has not yet hashed out all the details about who will harvest the produce but has a plan for a portion of the fruit grown.
“Part of the mission statement of the garden is to allocate 20 percent of what we grow to a charity of some sort,” Converse said.
He added the community garden donated more than 2,000 pounds of fresh produce to St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church’s food pantry in 2011.